All bands should, from now on, consist of half a chamber orchestra (cello and violin) and half a rock band (bass and drums), joined together by an acoustic guitar. We have decided this after an evening of being beguiled by the lovely Stephanie Dosen and her lovely band at Hoxton Square Bar + Kitchen.
For those of you yet to have experienced the pleasure of debut album A Lily For The Spectre, Stephanie is a performer whose fragile, ethereal folk-pop would have slotted perfectly onto 4AD had Bella Union not come along to offer her a home instead.
High-pitched vocals, beautifully plucked strings, brushed drums that are barely there at all, perfectly melded onto melodies that should get lost in a live venue but don’t because the audience is too busy being enraptured to talk over them. Imagine All About Eve slowed down and covered by Sinead O’Connor, only better.
Dressed from head to toe in white, with knots tied in her ash blonde hair and forest fur trimming her pixie boots and waistcoat, she looks like a figure from an indie fairytale, a friendly ghost emerging from the shadows into which her black-clad band melt behind her.
Even her inter-song banter is reminiscent of an olde worlde travelling minstrel, spinning us tales of koalas from her recent Australian dates and inviting us into the world she passes onto us in song. Her stage presence is impressive and helps to keep the audience attentive enough to compensate for the quietness.
Her music is perfect for such a small venue, filling the room without needing to strain, letting you close your eyes and imagine the woodland clearings she conjures up. If pop stars existed in stories by the Brothers Grimm, they would sound like Stephanie Dosen.
The mark of any good concert, it finishes too soon, seeming to have taken far, far less than the near hour for which she has entertained us. Waiting for the venue to clear, we strike up conversation with band member Beth, and before we know it we’re helping ourselves to the band’s wine, chatting about Harrington jackets with members of Brinkman, and sitting in the unseasonably warm October air gazing at the autumn leaves in Hoxton Square.
Then it’s all over, time to go leave the fairy pop wonderland we’ve visited this evening and sail back to the shores of reality – or the Northern Line, as it’s more frequently known. The following day, the band will be in Nottingham on the next leg of the tour and we’ll be in the office writing up this review. But for the few hours it lasted, it was very close to magic.